The Indian Constitution [hereinafter referred ‘Constitution’] is the largest written constitution in the world with almost around 1,49,000+ words. Major parts of the Indian constitution are derived from constitutions around the world. Though with the tag of the biggest constitution in the world, our constitution is also tagged for the most amended constitution in the world, within 73 years of independence and 71 years of the constitution, we have amended our constitution 104 times [up till 2020] and it’s not that I am criticizing the constitution or its makers but it is about accepting the fact.
But keeping the facts aside let me mention the last five amendments made, ranging from the year 2015-2020.
Two amendments were brought through the act:
∙ The first one was to pursue the Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 between India and Bangladesh with the exchange of some enclaves territories with Bangladesh, ∙ And the second was relating to the provisions of territories of four states [Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya] in the 1st schedule of the constitution were amended.
The Constitution [101th Amendment] Act, 2016
∙ With this amendment act, the whole taxation system of India was changed, the Goods and Service Tax Act [GST] was introduced in the Indian Tax System, nullifying the previous ones in force.
∙ The National Commission for Backward Classes [NCBC] was given constitutional status by this amendment act.
∙ A maximum of 10% Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections of people of classes other than those listed in clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15 is reserved through this amendment act. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes, as specified in Article 15  and , are socially and educationally backward groups of people.
∙ This act made changes to the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for SCs and STs, such as extending the deadline for reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies by ten years; and
∙ Removing reserved seats for the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
What other amendments did GST buy into the constitution?
The Union List and the State List are sections of the Constitution that grant the Centre and States the authority to levy different taxes. GST was to be levied in such a way that it would be able to be levied and collected by both the Centre and the States. This Act resulted in the addition, elimination, and amendment of some Articles to properly enact the GST legislation:
∙ Article 246A: Special provisions for GST: This article was recently added to grant the Parliament and the respective State/Union Legislatures the authority to enact laws on the GST levied by each of them. The Indian Parliament, on the other hand, has sole legislative authority over inter-state supplies. The IGST Act governs interstate commerce. As a result, Parliament would have exclusive authority to enact legislation under the IGST Act.
∙ Article 269A: Levy and collection of GST for inter-state supply: Although Article 246A gives the Parliament sole authority to make laws relating to inter-state supplies, Article 269A governs the allocation of revenue from such supplies between the Centre and the States. It gives the GST Council the authority to make rules in this region.
∙ Article 279A: GST Council: This article empowers the President to form the GST Council, which is a joint forum of the Centre and States. The GST Council is an apex member committee tasked with amending, reconciling, or procuring any legislation or regulation relating to India’s Goods and Services Tax.
∙ Article 286: Restriction on Tax Imposition: This was an established article that prohibited states from enacting legislation that permitted them to raise taxes on goods sold or purchased outside the state or on import transactions. It was also changed to prohibit the passage of any legislation relating to facilities. Furthermore, the word “supply” has taken the place of “sale or buy.”
∙ Article 366: Addition of Important definitions: This was an existing article amended to include the definition of GST, Service and State.
What is the National Commission for Backward Classes [NCBC] and what does its constitutional status mean?
It is the authority in charge of investigating complaints and welfare programmes involving economically and educationally disadvantaged people. After the Indra Sawhney case in 1992, when the Supreme Court ordered the government to establish a permanent body to entertain, investigate, and recommend the inclusion and exclusion of various Backward Classes for benefits and security, the commission was created. In 1993, the government passed the National Commission for Backward Classes Act and established the NCBC in compliance with the guidelines.
Although Parliament passed a separate bill repealing the National Commission for Backward Classes Act of 1993, the 1993 act became obsolete after the bill was passed. After receiving the President’s assent in August 2018, the amendment bill’s legislative body status was converted to constitutional status. It has now been elevated to the status of a constitutional entity.
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